Snorkelling 101

Tip 1: learn how to swim first. Otherwise it's called drowning.

Tip 2: Buy a good mask and snorkel (see Equipment). Now you're ready!

1 Try it in the bath

43189663 - diver wih mask and snorkel ready for swim in bath

Connect the snorkel to the mask. Put the mask on (remember, it has to fit properly - buy it from a dive shop). Then sit by the bath and try it out. Make sure you haven't got any hair caught in the mask and that you can breathe through the snorkel.  Put your face under water and practise breathing.

Don't breathe through your nose - the mask should be close enough to make nostril breathing uncomfortable (and it fogs up the mask).

Breathe only through your mouth. If you get water in your mouth, spit it out as if you're blowing out a candle. Ptchu! If you've bought a snorkel with a purge valve (Equipment) then the snorkel should clear easily.

2 Test the snorkel

53373031 - retired old sea captain relaxing in a rocking chair underwater, breathing through a snorkel

Go to the beach and sit on a rock, and try breathing with the mask and snorkel under water again.

If that works, walk up to your waist in water and dip your head under. Make sure the exit end of your snorkel is above water, and try breathing. It's a slightly artificial feeling, but you get used to it.

Once you're comfortable breathing, you're ready. Keep in a depth where you can stand up, and lay flat on the water. Do a few swimming strokes, and try breathing. Have a look around under water.

If you can see things, and breathe - congratulations! You're snorkelling!

3 Do it for real

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Find a beach where you can walk into the water. Test the sea temperature to make sure it's warm enough.

Look at the sun - is it hot? You might need  a t-shirt (your back burns even if it's underwater).

Spit into the inside of your mask. Rub the spit round the glass part. Wash your mask in the sea.

Pull your hair back. Put the front of the mask on your face, then pull the strap over the back of your head.

Put the mouthpiece of the snorkel onto your mouth and check you can breathe through it.

Lean forward into the water and float on your front.

4 Try to swim

53373030 - little boy in a polka-dot swimsuit snorkeling and playing with a toy submarine

Always snorkel with a buddy: it's basic sea safety.

You don't need to do a breast stroke - gentle paddling with your feet and the occasional arm movement should be enough. If you want more speed, you can do the crawl.

Stay within your depth - so you can touch the bottom.

Look at a fixed point on the shore, so you can check if there is a current. A current will pull you gently in a particular direction. If there is a current, don't feel you have to swim against it. Move at right-angles across it towards the shore, until the current disappears.

5 Look around

25653635 - young diver underwater  in the eps file, each element is grouped separately

Before you start looking round underwater, check what's happening up top. Can you see any boats? They might hit you if they don't see you. Are there any waves or rocks? You may want to keep away from those. Be aware of what's going on.

Now you can have a look around under the sea. Go for  stones or a reef, and check out the fish life. Snorkelling is a slow sport: you can see lots of things while staying within your depth. Try to find two or three interesting-looking fish, and remember what they look like. Check them out when you get ashore.

6 Watch the time

21426473 - sunburned male back. isolated over white background.

How long should you stay in? It's up to you really.

If the water's cool, twenty minutes should be enough (five or ten minutes for some people). You might get cramp if you get cold. Stay in shallow water while you sort these things out.

If it's warmer then you can stay for, say, up to an hour - but be careful in a hot sun.

Everyone's different. Be cautious when you experiment. Remember you can get sunburnt easily in the water. Wear sun cream, and a T-shirt, and keep in shadow if the sun's hot and you can find shade. Sunburn can happen quite easily in the water.

Where to snorkel logo

Usual warning: we have made every effort to make sure this information is correct and up-to-date, but you need to check it all yourself.

© Garreg Lwyd Ltd 2018